The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.

In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The correct way to eat an Ice Cream 

We had a great day out at the Carnival yesterday. So many people were having so much fun dancing and singing and smiling, it was clearly sinful on a galactic scale.

The only problem we had, the Alanezi tribe, was that it was a warm day, and our ice creams started to melt before we could finish them off. Result - sticky hands, chins, clothes, everything.

Which reminded me of this item I came across a little while ago. It's the tale of a lady and her friend who were enjoying ice creams in Riyadh's newest and most upmarket mall, the Kingdom Mall.

The muttawa—or religious police—are a self-elected goon squad of fundamentalists who surveil the Magic Kingdom's inhabitants, particularly its expatriates. The purpose of their scrutiny is to ensure conformity to their own warped, narrow-minded interpretation of Islam. Their scrutiny is often asinine and always absurd, as the following mundane example illustrates.
A woman and her female friend were sitting on a bench in the Kingdom Mall, eating ice cream cones, when along came a muttawa, accompanied by a police officer. (You can always spot a muttawa by his beard, his thobe—the white gown worn by local men—that is always four or five inches too short, and a mien of profound hatred of all things different.) The muttawa approached the women, pointed a menacing claw, and hissed, "Don't lick it that way!"
Not being an authority on the subject, I can't with any confidence say there isn't a sura buried somewhere in the Qur'an covering the moral etiquette of licking ice cream. I suspect, though, the muttawa had wandered a bit beyond his moral jurisdiction.
"We just looked at each other," the woman told me. "I mean, how else are you supposed to eat an ice cream cone? You have to use your tongue, right? We just sat there and watched our ice cream melt until he wandered off. Stupid muttawa."

"Stupid Muttawa". How unkind. They are public servants, just trying to do a thankless task in the interests of our moral purity. Some people think that the Muttawa live on a constant diet of fast food and confiscated porn, so that any lady who extends her tongue beyond her lips, especially to lick something, is going to evoke guilty and lascivious thoughts, provoking a sexually-repressed and puritanical reaction. But nothing could be further from the truth. Quite simply, there is a wrong way to eat an ice cream, and there is a right way.

Just to clarify things, and for the guidance of the pious and right-minded citizens of Saudi Arabia, the Muttawa have issued another book in their "Muttawa Guide" series. Following on from the runaway success of ""Hide those Bruises"; the Muttawa Guide to Extreme Cosmetics", this one's bound to be an even greater success.

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